Food & Wine
A manageable-sized sailing yacht features a giant of a chef
May. 8, 2005 10:00 AM
Nothing has been spared on Obsession II, a streamlined sailing yacht designed to run optimally with a small crew. The chef utilizes the state-of-the-art galley to maximum advantage.
Following a casual buffet lunch aboard the 112ft S/Y Obsession II, in Antigua, 20 or so guests rewarded Chef Pierre Dumortier with a standing ovation. He graciously accepted the praise, which was well deserved.
We had boarded the sleek vessel a couple of hours earlier in Nelson’s Dockyard Marina, and entered the strikingly large deck saloon, which features a full panoramic view. The air conditioning was welcome since it was over 90 degrees, but on cooler days, or in the evening, a unique design allows the foreward and side window panels to recede into the coamings to let in cool breezes.
Today, there was a large table set up beneath the skylight. A huge mat of woven palm leaves decorated with fresh white orchids graced the draped cloth.
Chief Stewardess Cynthia MacCurray handed us chilled glasses of a light French rosé from Provence, and asked us if we’d like a tour. We followed her below where there’s another saloon, this one lined with wild cherry paneling and comfortable seating areas for dining or relaxing. The entire aft part of the yacht holds accommodations for the owner’s suite and two guest cabins, all en suite. A fourth, smaller cabin is forward. As a special touch, all are embellished with star-studded constellations overhead to inspire sweet dreams as you drift off to sleep.
We ascended and stepped onto the foredeck, where we were surprised to see a seawater swimming pool – resplendent with floating white orchids – which is filled when the jet tender is launched by a crane.
Back in the deck saloon, it was time to eat. Cynthia passed trays of mini quiches in delicate pastry shells as the chef, Pierre Dumortier, and Captain Bernard Coiron began to top the palm frond with platters of sushi; mozzarella, tomato, and cucumber salad; and transparent salad rolls. These were quickly followed by tuna ceviche with lemon; cucumber salad with spicy peanuts; tabouleh salad; spring rolls; octopus with lemon juice; salad of potatoes and salmon; and a salad of red, orange, and green peppers with artichoke hearts. As we stood around talking and commenting on the fine food, a rumor swept through the saloon that this was just the starter course!
Hard to believe, but true. The palm frond was quickly cleared of near-empty platters and replenished with a warm lunch buffet featuring eggplant tempura; lobster with curry sauce (see recipe); beef with litchi nuts; sauteed mixed vegetables; mahimahi seviche; and lamb in peanut sauce.
We gathered around the dining tables and sofas, our plates once again heaped high. One guest commented that the chef seemed to be performing a magic hat trick to keep such an incredible amount of food flowing from a small galley. Lisa Cavicchioli, Fraser Worldwide’s charter manager for the yacht, chimed in, saying, “Pierre is one of the best chefs. Other boats – and clients – always want to steal him!”
Pierre, however, prefers to remain where he is. He looked very content as he stood over his third buffet table of the day. This time the palm leaves held an array of scrumptious desserts that included chocolate mini cakes topped with coconut; rice pudding with cinnamon, topped with oranges; pear cake topped with bananas and pineapple; fried bananas; homemade nut brittle; tropical fruit salad; and oeufs a la neige!